After the episode in the generic coffee shop things between me and Sarah inexplicably cooled. Why that was, I couldn’t fathom. I was a free agent, despite Mozza and the Nokia. (She wasn’t so much a bunny boiler as a Warren Gasser). My computer was under my bed, away from temptation. I spent my days at my desk and nights in front of the tv. Weekends were taken up with Everton and my son’s football team.
Rob got a lift off one of his mates dads so Sarah never made an appearance. The fact that she stopped going, the fact that missing her sons game meant avoiding me said it all.
The team was struggling too. No striker, no midfield, rubbish support and constant grumbling from the supporters. And My lads team were rubbish too.
There had to be a way of getting to see her. Texting was out of the question. I couldn’t see the point.
What? “How are you? X” ?
What would I get back? An explanation of how she felt about me? Via a text? Anyone who has tried that knows that there lies purgatory . Imagine pouring out your heart in txt speak?
I rlly dnt wnt to c u again Smily face you r doin mi ed in tm coz I cnt cmit to anther knb head rolf x
Actually thinking about it, maybe that would have been preferable.
Anyway. Salvation was at hand. An earthquake? A mass murderer loose on the street? A riot ? Social unrest? No, something far , far worse – Parents evening!
I was sat under the fluorescent lights of the sports hall. One of the parents I knew from my time at school. It was Ralph, the lean jock who broke every fifth form girl’s heart with his film star looks and perfect physique. He was the bald headed chubby guy with the defeated face and straggly comb over.
There was Diane, the star of our net ball team, a girl whose sapphire blue eyes and hour glass figure launched a thousand cold showers. Strode past me in her baggy grey trackie bottoms and carrying her innumerable double chins before her. She caught my eye as she rolled down the corridor, giving me a shrug of indifference that summed up the last twenty five years of her disappointment
My son was sat in one of a row of chairs waiting for the stern remonstrations of Mr Fletcher the maths teacher. A gangly man with the dress sense of Rupert the bear and just enough nasal hair to weave a small basket.
My lad was slumped so far forward his nose was almost touching his knees
“Son, cant you just pretend to look interested?
“What’s the point Dad? No matter how much you think you have done with your life, in the end we all return to the earth, and the worms.”
“Well before you go and see the worms, can you try and make a better fist of trigonometry?”
OH the joys of parenthood.
Then just as we sat down in front of the thicket of tangled hair that was protruding from Mr Fletchers’ considerable proboscis, I saw Sarah with Rob. They were in the queue for Miss Bowden Smith the arts teacher. Rob must be doing art.!
Have you ever tried to hurry up a conversation by means of your head alone?
“Well Mr Hughes, your son here needs to raise his game, I mean if we just look at his geometry marks for this year.”
“MMM yes (nods() mmmm yes I see well I’ll be sure to tell him anyway thank you.”
I lifted my boy gently from his seat . As I lifted him up and away, the apple of my eye kept his chin planted firmly on his bored knuckle, so it looked to all the world that I was stealing a miniature version of Rodin’s the thinker.
We joined the cue for art. At last my lad sprang into life.
“Dad, I don’t even do art
“I think you should give it a go. I think you’ll be good. Really
Sarah finished with the teacher and walked past.
“Look, sorry about the other week, I want to explain
“This was a tight window of opportunity. Ai had to act quick. But before I could speak Sarah spoke.”
“Ok where?” (god how off hand was I?)
“Travis bar in town?
“Yeah sure, tomorrow night?
“Ok, see you then
And that was that. I shoved my lad out of the door and we were gone.
That night the texting started again. Cautious at first, then more friendly, may be this time, maybe, just maybe.
I went into my lads room. He was asleep. On the table were some drawing of some cars and a giraffe.